Reims Cathedral: Art of Stained Glass

On Tuesday we visited cathedral in Reims and it was really, really gorgeous. What fascinated me the most are the stained glass windows so I wanted to share some of that beauty on this blog. Stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals are especially interesting to me because I’ve never had a chance to see that kind of art in Serbia. Art of christian orthodox churches is quite different, with ordinary, transparent windows and painted walls.

Two roses and crowning

On the top of the western wall of the cathedral, one can see La Grande Rose. It dates from the end of the 13thcentury and it represents the Assumption of Mary. The rose is done in a circular pattern. In the middle of the big circle, virgin Mary is represented, surrounded with the first circle of 12 apostles, and then with the second one with 24 angels musicians who together with prophets and kings accompany Christ’s mother to heaven.


In 1936, Ateliers Simon-Marq, created a second, smaller rose bellow the big one in order to replace the windows that were destroyed during the World War I. Such an accomplishment, having two roses on the same wall, is very unique. Small rose has the virgin Mary placed in the center, where each of the rose petals represents her different qualities.

Between two roses, stained glass evokes crowning of the king: the king is in the center dressed in some sort of flowery robe and he is accompanied with 6 pairs of church officials and 6 pairs of dukes and counts. This represents a unique history of Reims cathedral, where kings were once crowned.

The water of life

These are some of the more modern stained glass windows of the cathedral. They were done in 1961 by Brigitte Simon-Marq where she tried to evoke light reflecting on a river by using blu-grey-green tones. Because these windows are modern and quite different from the traditional ones, their installation was opposed by the citizens of Reims. However, the funding was found and in my opinion, they look stunning. Real work of abstract art.








Blue magic

These three blue windows were done by Marc Chagall, combining blue hues that resemble the windows from the 13th century and more modern drawings. The central window evokes the history of Abraham and the last moments of the Earthly life of Christ. The window on the left expresses the prophesy of the Old Testament. It depicts the Tree of Jesse, David and Salomon and virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. The lst window on the right contains some motives that describe the history of the cathedral: St. Remi blessing Clovis, first king of the Franks; crowning of french kings, etc.






Splash of colors

The newest windows in this cathedral got revealed in 2011 and were done by german artist Imi Knoebel. I liked them a lot, mostly because I have never seen anything like it in a cathedral. I’m glad these abstract motives are partially replacing religious ones, because they are truly beautiful. And the fact that catholic church is becoming less conservative only gives more freedom to the artists. Here is a photo. Colors are soooo vibrant.










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